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Tony Hetherington

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter from America of 2018, we may be only 5 days into the New Year, but the Supreme Court has just made another ruling against Silverpoint.

Another client of Canarian Legal Alliance has had their contract with Silverpoint declared null and void, with the return of over £11,000 plus legal fees and interest. This now makes the number of rulings from the Supreme Court made by CLA to an astonishing 83!

Once again it is that time when maintenance bills start to drop onto the door mat, for many this is a difficult time, especially for the elderly who can no longer afford to pay the ever increasing bills.

For one elderly lady which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting for some time it has happened again. This is the case of Mrs B, as you will remember, MacDonald Resorts refuse to acknowledge that she no longer owns her timeshare at Dona Lola in Spain.

Mrs B and her sister, who are now in their late 80’s, employed the services of a company to be rid of their timeshares around 3 years ago. This company “sold” the timeshares and transferred them to another person, this was duly notarised by a notary in Spain. The Lanzarote timeshare has caused no problem, but MacDonald’s refuse to accept the transfer.

Mrs B has now received another demand for over £3000 for maintenance, obviously this will end up being sent to a debt collection agency which will incur even more fees.

It must also be remembered that they had not used the timeshare for over 10 years, yet still paid the maintenance until the transfer. Both are virtually housebound and cannot afford to pay these extortionate amounts.

Tony Hetherington has published several articles about MacDonald Resorts and their chasing of maintenance fees, even after the death of the owners or severe illness.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

MacDonald Resorts is one of the worst offenders in the timeshare industry for this type of behaviour, it is companies like this that have given timeshare the reputation it has. Greed it seems is the order of the day.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Hope for Beleaguered Timeshare Members!

Start with the Better Business Bureau

By Irene Parker

January 5, 2018

The Nightmare on Timeshare Street article scheduled for today has been cancelled because the resort listened and responded to the member. We don’t yet know the outcome, but at least the member has not been dismissed or ignored. The customer is not the enemy. The enemy is the timeshare sales agent that “pitches heat” making outrageous claims to sell points, knowing they are protected by the oral representation clause and that there is no federal enforcement.

If you have a complaint about your timeshare, first and foremost, contact your resort. It’s surprising how many who contact us have not tried to resolve their issue with the timeshare company before contacting an attorney or an exit company. It is the opinion of Inside Timeshare, in most cases, a member can accomplish what an attorney or an exit company can accomplish by following our complaint form. We are here to answer any questions for free.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint: Revised

In the U.S. it’s best to begin with the Better Business Bureau, although the BBB is not a regulatory agency. It is a nongovernmental nonprofit that serves to promote a community of business that consumers can trust. The BBB does not solve consumer disputes. Success is not based on the outcome, but whether the business responded or not.

A BBB complaint is the easiest to file and can serve as your blueprint as you work your way down the list of appropriate agencies. File a complaint only if you feel you were a victim of deceit and bait and switch. “I can’t afford this” or “there is never any availability” or “you can always book cheaper online” are not specific enough complaints.

We compare the Better Business Bureau ratings among five major vacation point sellers. First, an explanation of the rating process from the BBB website:

The BBB rating rates only how cooperative and responsive a business will be to consumer issues. BBB ratings are based on information in BBB files with respect to the following factors:

Business’s complaint history with BBB.

The BBB rating takes into account the following information with respect to closed complaints that relate to a business’s marketplace activities:

  • Number of complaints filed with BBB against the business.
  • The size of the business.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business appropriately responded to them.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB’s opinion the business resolved the complaints in a timely manner to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business made a good faith effort to resolve complaints, even if the customer was not satisfied with the resolution.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business failed to resolve the underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.
  • The age of resolved complaints. Older resolved complaints have less of an impact on the rating than newer complaints.

⦁ Type of business.

⦁ Time in business.

⦁ Transparent Business Practices

⦁ Failure to honor commitments to BBB.

⦁ Licensing and government actions known to BBB.

⦁ Advertising issues known to BBB.

From Best to Worst based on Stars

BBB Accreditation: If a business has been accredited by the BBB, it means BBB has determined that the business meets accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB accredited businesses pay a fee for accreditation review and monitoring for continued compliance.

https://www.bbb.org/council/for-businesses/about-bbb-accreditation/

Disney Vacation Club, Marriott Vacation Worldwide, Diamond Resorts International, Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

                                                                     # of stars      # of Complaints       # of reviews +      –   neutral

A+ Disney Vacation Club                            5/5                             9                          1        1                   0      0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Accredited since 1991, in business since 1990

 

A+ Marriot Vacation Worldwide          3.68/5               123                                  11        0                   11     0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994

 

A- Diamond Resorts International       3.27/5          1,115                                   89       2                  86      1

Government Action noted

Not accredited, in business since 1996

 

C+ Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited       2.47/5           781                                108         9                 95      4

Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1966

 

C+ Wyndham Vacation Ownership      2.39/5         2,085                             96             4                 92      0

Government Action noted and a Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994    

Next week: The Consumer Protection Agency – What’s left?

A survey of all timeshare appropriate regulatory agencies:

http://insidetimeshare.com/chicken-soup-timeshares-soul/

Always Remember:

U.S. Self-Help member sponsored groups we believe not to be industry influenced:

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have questions about this or any other article published, we are here to give you the best advice possible.

 

The Never Ending Ownership: Another Nightmare on Timeshare Street.

Once again Tony Hetherington has highlighted the problem of timeshare ownership and the never ending membership. His article in MailOnline published 12 November (see link at the end for the full article), is the story of an elderly couple being hounded for £3,010 maintenance fees.

This couple are 80 years of age, they purchased their timeshare in 1993, this is now controlled by Cameron House Owners Club. Apparently they have been asking to sell since 2004, all maintenance fees had been paid upto 2012, when they returned their ownership certificates.

cameron logo

They have serious medical conditions and are unable to use the timeshare, they are also on limited pensions, so are unable to afford the ongoing costs. They are now being threatened with debt collectors if they do not pay.

Sounds a very familiar story, Inside Timeshare has been highlighting these types of cases for some time, especially those involving MacDonald Resorts, remember the case of Mrs B, which has still not been resolved even after nearly 2 years.

Mrs B and her sister are both in their 80’s not in good health and believed that their timeshare at Dona Lola Club in Spain had been transferred to a third party. Inside Timeshare has the notarised document that shows this to be the case. MacDonald’s refuse to accept this and are hounding them for around 3 years maintenance which they cannot afford to pay. Again the debt collectors have been sent in.

mcdonaldsresortlogo

In Spain these “perpetuity” contracts have been illegal since 4 January 1999, when Ley 42/98 was enacted. Under this law contracts must be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years. Many contracts for timeshares that have been sold since then which exceed the 50 year maximum are being declared null & void, with all the purchase price being returned. This law has been enforced by 69 Supreme Court rulings which all Spanish courts must abide by.

Timeshares such as MacDonalds and Cameron House use the perpetuity clause to lock in owners for ever, it also becomes part of their estate which is then the responsibility of whoever inherits the timeshare to continue to pay the maintenance. It doesn’t end there, it then becomes part of their estate, as so on it goes.

So as Tony Hetherington puts it “Even death does not bring an end to the bills. It could claim against your estate, blocking bequests to family, friends or charities, while it pockets annual fees for a timeshare that will stand unused”.

Some timeshare companies do have exit policies, Diamond for instance would have allowed this couple out free of charge under their exceptional circumstances programme, which this couple would clearly fall into.

MacDonald Resorts which has a very poor reputation on this matter, usually charges 4 years maintenance for release, but this is only offered every two years and is limited to participants on a first come first served basis.

These perpetuity contracts and the behaviour of these timeshare operators is totally unfair, at least Spain has addressed the problem, it is time for the Scottish and English law makers to address this and bring in the laws such as Spain to limit the duration of contracts and enforce reasonable exit programs. The industry cannot be trusted to do it themselves, until this is done we will be seeing many more cases such as this couple and Mrs B.

Follow the links below to Tony Hetheringtons’ latest article and his previous article from July 2014, the next two links are articles relating to Mrs B.

tony hetherington
Tony Hetherington

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/investing/article-5073153/TONY-HETHERINGTON-s-time-leave-Cameron-House-Hotel.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

http://insidetimeshare.com/illness-not-reason-surrender-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/bbc-scotland-investigates-problems-timeshare-contracts/

If you have any questions or concerns about similar circumstances, or have purchased in Spain and would like to know if you are eligible to claim, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

If you have been contacted by any company or are thinking of dealing with a company regarding claims or relinquishment and want to know if they are genuine, Inside Timeshare will help you find the information.

homework

The Alphabet Soup of Timeshare Lobby Organizations: TATOC – RDO – ARDA ROC & CARDA

Should Resort Timeshare Owners Worldwide Pay the Voluntary ARDA ROC Contribution?

questman    By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

November 27, 2016

Across the oceanic great divide, there is an alphabet soup of timeshare political lobby organizations.  Are they on the side of the timeshare owner or on the side of the developer?

First off, who are they and what are they:

RDO (Charles)

TATOC (Charles)

The RDO, or Resorts Development Organisation, is the trade association for the timeshare industry in Europe, its function is to ensure standards within the industry are maintained and that members abide by a code of conduct. These members fund the organisation with annual subscriptions, they also provide the board of directors, it is a self policing organisation, funded and controlled by the people who make their money selling the products.

The RDO says that it helps to protect the consumer, but as we know, it is their own members who have breached the timeshare laws, just look at the many cases being brought in Spain. The only protection they appear to offer consumers is constantly attacking any company offering a service who is not one of their members. They say you should only deal with RDO “accredited” companies, any other company who is not a member is likely to be a scam.

The press has highlighted in the past, many transgressions RDO members have perpetrated, MacDonald Resorts is just one. This company was the subject of several articles by the Award Winning Journalist Tony Hetherington, one was titled “The timeshare contract that even death will not save you from”. It followed the story of one owner who could not get out of her contract on the death of her husband. What did the RDO do, nothing.

They state one of their missions is to “Educate” journalists as they are ill informed on the subject, that the industry has been the victim of poorly researched articles. Yet these articles are highlighting the plight of their own members customers!

Another partner of the RDO is TATOC, The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, as the name suggests they represent the owners committees, but how can they represent owners when they are also funded by the industry?

The current CEO, Harry Taylor is no stranger to the Industry, between 14 June 2007 and 18 June 2013, he was listed as a director with Diamond Resorts European Collection Ltd. The strange thing is he is also listed as being appointed director of TATOC at the same time, 23 January 2007. (See Company House PDF).

harry-taylor-personal-appointments-free-information-from-companies-house

TATOC should be representing your rights, but we have seen on many occasions they have backed the plans of the resorts / developers themselves, again a case in point is MacDonald Resorts. There has been a move by this company to remove all fixed week owners into their points system, this has been resisted by many owners and is the subject of ongoing battles. Yet the advice from TATOC is to change to the points system, saying it will be better for them, backing MacDonald Resorts to the hilt at the expense of the people they say they represent.

It has been stated by Inside Timeshare many times, there does need to be dialogue between owners, resorts and developers, but the owners should be a separate voice, not one funded (run) by the industry. (See following link on trade associations inc, Tony Hetherington articles)

http://insidetimeshare.com/new-member-egtbw/

As for the “voluntary contributions” added to maintenance bills, this does not appear to be the case in Europe, so far we have not seen this and it is possible it would be highly contested if it were to be introduced.

ARDA and ARDA ROC

Timeshare owners worldwide who own a timeshare in the US may pay more attention to ARDA ROC’S “Voluntary” donation this year. Depending on the developer, the fee can range from $3 to $10. Owners must call their resort accounting department to have the charge removed unless it is an “opt-in” request.

For owners asking: “ARDA what?” – ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC is the timeshare owner arm – Resort Owner’s Coalition.

One reason timeshare owners are taking a closer look is because legislation passed in Florida last year outraged timeshare owners and timeshare advocacy groups. The legislation went into effect July 1, 2015.

One clause, simply put, “Currently, if there are errors in the contract, then a buyer has a right under Florida law to cancel that contract after 10 days. Under the new bill, errors or omissions that are “nonmaterial” would NOT allow a buyer to cancel after 10 days.” (Deanna from Winning the Timeshare Game)

http://timesharegame.com/florida-bill-weaken-timeshare-protections/

RedWeek also weighed in:

http://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-roc-donation-in-maintenance-bill

Keep Reading

A New Member to EGTBW

Inside Timeshare is proud to announce that it has been invited to become a member of the prestigious trade body EGTBW. This is the European Guild of Timeshare Blog Writers, it is affiliated to the IATBWG, the International Association of Timeshare Blog Writers Guilds.

 

Becoming a member means that Inside Timeshare must adhere to the Code of Conduct and Ethics of this Organisation.

 

  1. Members must not attack, make detrimental comments or otherwise demean any organisation that is a member or affiliated to EGTBW or IATBWG.
  2. Members must adhere to the laws of the EU, or the country of registration. Unless they can get away with it.
  3. The EGTBW and IATBWG will not mediate in any dispute between a member and non-members.
  4. If any organisation or entity has a complaint about a member of this organisation it must be taken directly to the member concerned.
  5. Any member may lie or spread false information about any non-member, citing freedom of speech and expression.
  6. If any action is taken against a member, both organisations will fully support that member, no matter what it has done wrong.
  7. Members may display both the EGTBW and IATBWG logos on all promotional material, correspondence and websites.

This Logo is a sign of quality and is a kite mark of excellence.

 

So there we have it Inside Timeshare has paid its £20,000 a year membership fee for the full protection and backup of these prestigious organisations. It now means we can do what the hell we like, so there!

 

If this was not a joke it would be farcical but unfortunately this is all too real in timeshare. On a daily basis we see owners and members being treated in the most disrespectful manner, we have also seen numerous court cases against the timeshare industry for breaking legislation.

 

There is an organisation that is supposed to be the trade body of this industry The RDO, but it is its own members that are breaking the rules. What do they do about it? Not a sausage.

rdo-logo

This organisations own code of conduct states that members should adhere to any legislation and laws regarding the sale of timeshare. Yet we see illegal contracts still being sold, deposits being taken on the day, all in breach of EU Directives which are supposed to be in each member state’s laws.

Keep Reading

MacDonald Resorts: No Stranger to Bad Press.

mcdonald logo

MacDonald Resorts and Hotels are no strangers to the press, over the years there have been articles in many newspapers about how they treat their members. Mrs B from the previous article is just one in a long line.

 

Tony Hetherington from the Mail on Sunday has highlighted this on many occasions, in one article dated 25th April 2014, he even mentions that MacDonalds will even make the executors of a will liable for maintenance fees.

mailonsunday

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

 

This article also highlighted the problem owners face on trying to end their contracts, MacDonalds makes it virtually impossible to end them. Although they did say they were making efforts to provide an exit solution.

 

Well we know what that usually means, and even Tony Hetherington showed this in the article. Yes we will let you out, but you must pay up to 4 years maintenance fees first. Inside Timeshare has been in contact with many owners who have had to pay considerable sums, just to be free of the burden of maintenance. I have also seen comments on different forums from uninformed people, just don´t pay the fees, they won´t come after you. Well unfortunately we know only too well MacDonald Resorts will send in the debt collector.

 

Due to the age of many owners that are in the position of wanting out, not paying is not an option. These people have been brought up in a different culture, one that a debt is a debt and should be paid. To them being threatened with court action is a no no. MacDonalds know this so pursue with vigour.

 

What of The RDO in all this?rdo-logo

 

As we have stated many times before this organisation is there for the resort owners and developers. If they were a genuine trade body regulating the industry, these unfair practises would not exist. Go to the RDO with any complaint about your resort, the answer will be the same every time. They do not investigate complaints against their own members.

 

What of TATOC?tatoc logo

 

Exactly the same, they do not investigate or mediate against any RDO member, yet they are supposed to represent you the owners. Harry Taylor is well known in the industry, he has sided with the RDO for years, even making a career out of his leadership of TATOC.

 

Again it is up to you the owners to fight these injustices, demand Independent oversight of this industry to protect yourselves. Demand a new Owners Association that is not funded by the industry. The RDO and TATOC will not do it for you.

If you require any information or impartial advice on how to deal with any timeshare problem, Inside Timeshare is here to help. If we do not know the answer we will find out.

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